It’s been quite some time since Bioshock creator Ken Levine disbanded Irrational Games in favor of a smaller and more focused dev team working for 2K Interactive, and it seems like we finally get some new info as to what his next move is going to be.
During his appearance on the Best Of 2015 edition of NPR’s On Point show, the developer says that his next project is going to be a small-scale open-world game. Levine says that his decision to keep it small stems from his desire to create more focused narrative experiences that focus on replayable brevity over artificially extended lengths. Levine laments that AAA games that focus on single-player narrative-heavy games are slowly disappearing due to the games’ industry’s focus on multiplayer only titles, citing the development costs of singleplayer games force developers to make the games shorter. The reason why he’s focusing on an open-world with a guiding narrative is that he hopes that players will be creating their own stories within the game outside of the story the game is telling to the player. The games supposed length is quite short, which is a far cry from the huge, sprawling worlds we see in most games nowadays.
Recently speaking to Game Informer, Levine said that the new game will bear some similarities to System Shock 2, which Levine was the lead writer for. Levine says that the concepts of the new game explore similar themes to System Shock 2, saying that the game will be a science fiction game centered around the concept of artificial intelligence.
The game is as of yet untitled, and an official announcement still seems to be pretty far away. Levine states that his team is experimenting heavily, but this is in no way a guarantee that the experiment will work out.
Levine also spoke at the 2014 GDC. See the video below for the full talk.
I’m pretty excited to be hearing more about this game. Levine’s approach to storytelling and worldbuilding made the Bioshock franchise an utterly compelling, if at time shallow, series that managed to convincingly portray beautiful worlds and interesting plot twists that made the generic (looking at you Bioshock Infinite) gameplay tolerable. The man is, in this writer’s humble and biased opinion, one of the best writers in the industry and I’m more than confident he can make something that is at least as compelling as Bioshock and System Shock 2.